The Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve (SGBR) harbors great ecosystem diversity, with conifer forests, conifer-oak forests, oak forests, cloud forests, dry tropical forest, riparian forests, and xerophyllous shrub lands. Many threatened species are dependent on the habitats within this reserve. The SGBR is the most eco-diverse protected area in Mexico, which is one of the ten most megadiverse countries in the world. Although the current reserve system is viewed as a conservation success story, many key properties in the region remain unprotected and are particularly important for the conservation of several endangered salamanders as well as for providing habitat for Jaguars and other wide-ranging predators. Two properties representing about 1730 acres of pristine forest are viewed as especially important for endangered salamanders and other wildlife species. These properties are located in the main ridge of the Sierra Madre Oriental in the eastern boundaries of the SGBR, with an average elevation of 2,200 m asl and near Cerro Grande, the third tallest mountain in the Sierra Gorda at 2,960 m asl.
The Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve holds second place among Mexican protected areas regarding its herpetological richness with 136 species, just after Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve in Veracruz state with 145 species. Among amphibians, 34 species have been recorded, belonging to two Orders, 8 families and 18 genera. All of the salamander species of the area are protected, including salamanders such as the Plateau Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma velasci), the Toothy Splayfoot Salamander (Chiropterotriton multidentatus) and the Gristle-headed Splayfoot Salamander (Chiropterotriton chondrostega), both listed as Endangered on the IUCN´s Red List, and the Bigfoot Splayfoot Salamander (Chiropterotriton magnipes) listed as Critically Endangered. Other salamanders in the area, such as Bell’s False Brook Salamander (Pseudoeurycea bellii) (VU) and Chunky False Brook Salamander (P. cephalica) (NT) are also threatened. The area provides important habitat for Jaguar (Panthera onca) (NT), Margay (Leopardus wiedii) (NT), and the threatened Bearded-wood Partridge (Dendrortyx barbatus) (VU), an endemic of Mexico whose survival depends on the Sierra Gorda Reserve due to large-scale deforestation in other areas. This site is also very important for many migratory bird species.
Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG). GESG was founded in 1987, achieving 25 years of grassroots work in the Sierra Gorda region, protecting the rich wildlife and building a conservation economy along with the local communities. GESG members and conservationists from Mexico City founded Joya del Hielo AC, with the sole aim to purchase land for conservation. In 1996, a 200 ha property with bio-diverse cloud forest was acquired. Since then and with a wide array of partners, 4,358 ha of mostly cloud, pine-oak and oak forests, have been protected.
Land purchase for conservation has proved to be an effective tool for biodiversity conservation in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve. We are proposing the expansion of “El Orégano” reserve (300 ha, recently established with the support of the World Land Trust), located in the eastern area of the SGBR, protecting pristine conifer-oak and cloud forest. Two neighboring properties are currently for sale (700 ha in total), so it is possible to consolidate a 1,000 ha reserve, ensuring protection from logging operations.
A new 1,000 ha (2,470 acre) reserve would be established with the purchase of the two key properties adjoining the parcel recently purchased with support from World Land Trust.
© 2012 Global Wildlife Conservation